Paternity is the legal term for fatherhood. This lawfully designates a person as the child’s father, which can provide the mother, father, and child with many benefits. Not only does everyone involved get peace of mind and full knowledge on the matter, but the child and father each acquire their own set of legal advantages. The child can receive child support, an inheritance, medical and life insurance benefits, social security benefits, and veterans’ benefits when applicable. Fathers receive legal rights to be involved in the child's life and the opportunity to build a relationship with them that they may not have had otherwise. Establishing paternity is crucial, and it is important to understand how to do so in your unique situation.
This is the most common way to establish paternity. In some situations, the father of the child is presumed based on the parents’ circumstances. There are four situations that warrant this assumption:
The man was married to the child’s mother when the child was born;
He married the child’s mother after the child was born and stated that he was the child’s father with the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics;
The man was married to the child’s mother at least 300 days before the child’s birth; or
He lived with the child for the first two years of the child’s life and presented himself as the father.
Acknowledgment of Paternity
While presumed paternity may be common, for some couples, this is not the case. Unmarried parents will have to sign an acknowledgment of paternity if they wish to legally establish the child’s father. This is an option for parents who wish to voluntarily recognize a child's paternity. Minors who have children are allowed to sign an acknowledgment of paternity without their parents’ consent.
Court-Ordered Paternity Test
Proving the father’s identity and biological connection to the child is not always desired by both parents. However, if one parent wishes to do so, and the other is uncooperative, it is possible for the court to order a paternity test. This test requires the child and parents to have their cheeks swabbed, and their DNA is then compared. The results take four to six weeks to complete, and the court will use the results to finalize the decision.
What if Paternity Is Mistaken?
In some cases, one or both parents may be unsure about the identity of the child’s father, or the wrong man may have been named the legal father. This means that the alleged father may be paying unnecessary child support payments for a child that is not his own. In cases involving contested paternity, a biological test will be required by the court, and the man can file a petition to stop child support payments for the time being.
Contact a Houston Family Law Attorney
Knowing the identity of a child’s father is crucial for any parent. Not only does the child deserve to know his or her father, but legal paternity protects the rights of the parents and the child. At The Foray Firm, our team works with both sides in paternity cases, because we believe that in most cases, establishing paternity is in the best interests of all family members. If you would like to prove who your child’s father is, or if you want to ensure that you are named the legal parent of your biological child, contact our experienced Fort Bend County paternity lawyers at 832-919-6400 for assistance.